Franklin Countys First News

Totally Trades makes an impact

FARMINGTON - In 2017, Sadie Knight was already making a name for herself as what she calls an “advocate for females entering the automotive trade.” In the past three years, since she was invited to present at the Totally Trades conference at the Mt. Blue Campus for the first time, she hasn’t strayed from that position. She’s since graduated from Foster Tech and has held the position of Service Advisor at the O’Connor Volkswagen dealership in Augusta for two years. Though Totally Trades was cancelled this year due to Covid, she has remained a presenter in previous years and has no doubts about returning in years to come. She views the conference as a vital opportunity to inspire other young girls who may be less confident about entering the automotive trades. Connecting with the possible apprehensions of some of the young girls interested in the trade, Knight feels an obligation to pay it forward, teaching them as much as she can in the program that helped her to get where she is today.

As a student herself in the Foster Tech program, Knight showed some hesitancy about her own success in the automotive trade. But her advisor and automotive instructor, Scott Vining, played a pivotal role in giving her the confidence that she now passes on to other young women who may feel intimidated about entering the male-dominated trade industry.

“He let me have my ideas out there and always treated me the same as any of the male students. There’s no discrimination at Foster Tech, and I think it’s important that we make sure that the girls know that,” Knight said.

Knight finds particular enjoyment in seeing the girls participate in the contests in Totally Trades, watching their excitement build and seeing them realize that they could have a career in the automotive trades.

“Seeing them smile while running up to change a tire, really getting into it, it’s the best. You can always see a difference in the girls from start to finish,” Knight said.

Over the years, Knight has developed a firm stance on encouraging young women, as well as men, to enter the trade industry. She commented on the consistent demand, especially in recent times when society has become hyperaware of what an ‘essential’ worker may be, for people to fill these positions.

“Trades are the way to go right now. A trade will give you a job for a lifetime,” Knight said.

She offers her perspective to the young people she works with every year, trying to show them the benefits of entering the automotive trade. Some young students, and Knight admitted to being of this category, might be surprised to find that there are more options in the trade industry than they initially expected. Knight’s own position as a Service Advisor is not a job she knew existed before her time at Foster Tech.

“I’m kind of a middle-man between the customer and the technicians," Knight said. “It gives me a chance to work in customer service, which I love. I’ve created a great bond with my customers.”

While both her time presenting at Totally Trades conference and her education in the Foster Tech program have helped Knight succeed in the automotive trade, her success is also owed to her own persistence and her passion for the trade. She hopes to be an example and a mentor for young women who share the same ambitions.

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